Perkins Township trustees Tim Coleman, Jeff Ferrell and Jim Lang and administrator Gary Boyle
Jan 15, 2021 9:00 AM
Like all local governments in 2020, Perkins Township faced many extraordinary challenges this year, including the daunting task of dealing with the first global pandemic in a century.
The township workforce has had to adapt its methods of service delivery to ensure the safety of staff in all departments as well as the general public.
As we all know, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many residents in our community, has negatively affected our businesses, and our school district has faced unprecedented challenges in continuing to address the educational needs of over 2,000 students.
Due to COVID-19, the township was faced with making changes to our priorities:
- Our previously planned capital improvement projects and the acquisition of some needed equipment and vehicles were delayed as a result of the uncertainty related to anticipated revenue losses associated with state-mandated business closures that were aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.
- The board of trustees and the administrator in consultation with department heads reviewed all scheduled capital projects and equipment purchases for 2020 and determined whether they could be delayed in order to exercise a fiscally prudent approach to control expenses, given expected shortfalls in revenue and uncertainty about the overall state of the economy.
- Unfortunately, that meant that certain planned road improvement projects were not undertaken, some planned park improvements could not be made, some hiring decisions were deferred, and vehicle and equipment purchases were delayed.
- Notwithstanding those decisions, ongoing improvements to our road system were still made in many instances, while other roads planned for improvements in 2020 will now be scheduled for 2021.
- Since our park system significantly enhances the community’s quality of life, decisions to delay additional park updates and enhancements to another year were difficult but necessary to make.
- Some equipment expenditures could not, however, be deferred such as ordering some new police department vehicles as those vehicles are crucial to our delivery of emergency services.
Keeping staff, and the public, safe
As briefly mentioned, the pandemic has significantly affected the operation of the township in a number of different ways.
At the onset of this pandemic, every department identified and made operational changes to protect staff from the spread of COVID-19 and to continue to remain available to address community needs even with the offices being closed to the public for periods of time.
For example, residents and businesses can arrange meetings with staff as may be necessary by email or telephone, and permits and other approvals continue to be processed quickly and efficiently by staff even when working remotely.
While following safety protocols recommended by the state and the local health department guidelines, our various boards and commissions still conduct business in meetings open to the public as does the board of township trustees, subject to masks being required, distancing being exercised and limits on the number of persons at a meeting.
Those efforts ensure that we can continue to be open and transparent in our operations.
A deeper dive into each department
- Building: The township also updated various aspects of our building facilities to provide for public access to service facility building through an intercom system, for the touch-free operation of bathroom fixtures, improvements to the building’s HVAC system in an effort to reduce virus transmission, etc. by using federal CARES Act funding.
- Recreation: The township’s ability to pursue recreational offerings, such as our large youth baseball program, had to be put on hold last spring in an effort to comply with state and local health and safety guidelines intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.
— Events: In addition, a number of important and very well-attended community events, such as Founders Day and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, had to be canceled for the same reason. The township looks forward to continuing recreational programming, including youth sports and the introduction of several new community events, in 2021.
- Safety services: The police and fire departments modified their procedural and operational responses to calls for service in order to protect staff and the community. In-service training and other educational programs continued in those departments while following safety guidelines.
— Equipment: Necessary safety equipment and personal protective equipment have been provided as well as the purchase of new turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department. New personal protective equipment and other equipment, including new protective vests, has been acquired for the police department as well as the purchase of new cruisers scheduled for delivery in early 2021.
— Community policing: Despite the pandemic, our community policing efforts continue and are considered to be more important than ever. The township trustees and the administrator appreciate the professionalism and integrity by which our police department operates.
— Fire force: Similarly, we have great respect and appreciation for the outstanding commitment and services provided by our fire department in the face of this pandemic.
— Looking ahead: Challenges, however, remain in both safety departments related to the hiring of additional staff due to budget issues, which we hope to be able to address in 2021.
- Public works: The public works department has continued to meet its important responsibilities related to road maintenance with 13 road improvement projects being completed in 2020 as well as crack-sealing on 10 miles of additional roads to help extend the life of those roads. The department also continued to maintain and improve the township’s cemetery as well maintaining our many parks. The department also assisted with the implementation of significant updates to Abernathy Park in conjunction with the community development department.
- Community development: Our community development department saw new leadership this year, and that department continues to provide great service to the township through its expertise in planning, building and economic development. As a state-certified building department, the administration of the Ohio Building Code and residential code occurred in 2020 and will continue in 2021. The department also continued its code enforcement efforts to address and abate nuisance properties, and that will continue to be a priority in 2021.
— Planning: The community development department’s most significant planning activity in 2020 involved finalizing the township’s comprehensive plan update. That plan will guide the future growth and development of the community. The planning division of that department will also continue to regularly review the zoning resolution and suggests updates in order to ensure that it meets community needs.
— New roads: Community development is also providing leadership related to the development of new roads in the vicinity of Sam’s Club Way and Baywinds Drive that will provide access to commercially zoned properties that would enable them to be developed in the future.
— New projects: It will also continue to provide expert planning and development advice and guidance related to the ongoing proposed reinvestment in the overall Sandusky Mall complex as it evolves during the next year or two as well as with the redevelopment of the vacant industrial property at 2509 Hayes Avenue (Ohio 4). This department is central to our efforts to support and foster business growth and opportunities in the township.
- In partnership: Perkins Township values its collaboration with outside entities including Serving our Seniors, the city of Sandusky, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Erie Regional Planning and the Erie Soil and Water Conservation District. The township looks forward to continuing those partnerships in 2021.
— Schools: One of our most important community partners is Perkins Schools. The township works very closely with the school district and meets monthly or more as necessary to discuss our commitment to addressing community needs and collectively providing an approach to make our community an even better place to live, work and visit.
In conclusion, please be advised that the township remains committed to providing the best and most cost-effective services to our community.